Daniel Halliday
Dec 18 · Last update 2 mo. ago.
What does Hungary’s ‘slave law’ mean for European democracy?
This controversial law was passed on 12th December at the end of a long list of authoritarian policy implemented in the country since 2010. This particular law lead to huge demonstrations in Budapest involving protesters and opposition MPs camping outside state television headquarters for 24 hours in subzero temperatures until a list of demands were broadcast, one of which was a repeal of this law. The so called ‘slavery’ law states that employers can demand 400 hours of overtime a year from employees without payment for 3 years to address Hungary’s labour shortage. What effect will such a law have on democracy in Hungary and what significance does this have on democracy in Europe?
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Another Far-Right voice in EU parliament
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It is not a problem with democracy
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A degradation of Hungarian Democracy
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Another Far-Right voice in EU parliament

Taking control of media, as is the case with Viktor Orbán, means that having the democratic majority is meaningless in Hungary, and the effect of so many far-right politicians being in power across Europe has more serious and worrying consequences for EU policy making. Orbán wants to shape EU politics and his presence at the European Council is therefore more poignant than his position in Hungary, he will be standing with far-right voices such as Kurz in Austria, La Pen in France and will thus change the policy and outlook of the EU. The effects this will have on EU politics is a further distraction from humanitarian policies such as dealing with Syrian asylum seekers and a growth of crony capitalism and corporatist control in Europe.

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It is not a problem with democracy

This is a result of democracy; Viktor Orbán was democratically elected, and this is a law that will give flexibility to employers who struggle to find labour in the country with a labour shortage and an ageing population. He represents the will of the people and this law is not even the most far right law he has passed currently, this is an inevitable reality of voting for a populist president in Hungary's current socioeconomic situation. This is not an attack on democracy but a shift in politics to a right turn for the government of Hungary, something obviously shared by the majority of people in the country with Orbán holding a 25% lead against the nearest opposition party in the last election.

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A degradation of Hungarian Democracy

This law is an attack on worker’s rights and essentially legalising slave labour with such a large amount of forcible free overtime. This law will strip workers of their rights in the work place, destroying work place democracy or any fair say for workers. Workers rights should be a foundation for democracy to be built upon in societies, and removing such rights represents a slippery slope in the degradation of democracy. The president of Hungary Viktor Orbán and his self-proclaimed ‘illiberal’ policies are a far cry from the European ideals of democracy.

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